Your input on open questions for Mission-driven Mozillians project


(Daniele Scasciafratte) #1

Hey lovely Reps,

Last weekend the Reps Council joined a meetup in the Mozilla Berlin offices with different volunteers and Mozilla employees from different functional areas about Volunteer Leadership. Read more about this project and the outcomes of the weekend.
We are writing to you to give us feedback on several questions around the Principles and Practices for Leadership as described in the Discourse thread above.

We ask you to provide feedback to the following questions until the 4th of December in this Discourse thread, so we can review it at the All Hands where we will keep working on that. This is a selection of open questions we thought that are most valuable to have answers and suggestions from Reps.

Leadership should require renewal

  • How do we ensure community/staff balance in evaluating terms/checkpoints?
  • How do we fill leadership gaps if they are results of failures?
  • How do you address a conflict/leadership failure in between a term?

Leadership should be distributed

  • How can we ensure distributed leadership in small communities? 1-5 people.
  • How do we ensure leadership roles are accessible for everyone?
  • How do we ensure opportunities are effectively communicated?

Leaders should be accountable

  • How do we measure accountability?
  • How do we set standards for accountability?

Leadership should be diverse & inclusive

  • How do we ensure leadership is transparent?
  • How can we make/enforce CPG visible?

Leadership should be consistent

  • How do we avoid burnout?
  • How do we get people already comfortable in leadership roles to adopt new ways of wrking/new ways of thinking?
  • How do we measure needs of recognition?

Community Experts and Technical Experts Should, where possible, be Separate but Equal leadership Roles

  • How do we identify if a leader has the minimum capabilities?
  • Does “expert “resonate in all cultures? Are there differences in meaning?
  • How do communication work in this group?
  • How do we ensure people do not get the “leader” by being popular only?

Cheers,
Daniele


New Reps: Additional questions for the Mission-Driven Mozillians Project
(Kairo) #2

It would be helpful to know what this project is about at all. This is a sudden thing that postulates things as rules that have never been discussed in the community before from what I can tell and it’s completely unclear what kind of leadership this even is about. Could you explain what the purpose of this whole project is?


(Rubén Martín) #3

The project intro and background can be found in this topic


(Felipe Do E. Santo) #4

Hello Mozillians!
My thoughts on the topic:

Leadership should require renewal / Leadership should be distributed
We used to have a Conflict resolution Council here in Brazil to help in some cases of conflict. For this council, the “leadership” position used to change every six months. For this changes, we had a list of the interested people in being in this position, and every six months we called the next on the list. To keep people updated we always send messages to our groups, and in the most common channels.

Leaders should be accountable
In my opinion, this is really hard to do, the only thing I can think here is something they use in the college where I work: Every year at the end of the second semester the professors have to build a report on their activities, explaining what they did, what went well and what doesn’t (this report goes to the administration and they can evaluate the activities for the next year).

Leadership should be diverse & inclusive
For me, keeping all the process and decisions open to everybody is the best option always. We need to invite anyone who wants to give their opinions and help (especially in the process definitions). The CPG will be highly visible if everybody in a leadership position keeps leading by example, we need to ensure a welcoming and open space for everyone.

Community Experts and Technical Experts Should, where possible, be Separate but Equal leadership Roles
We can use the know how of other programs like Tech Speakers, Mozilla Open Leaders, Campus Clubs for the “selection” process and try to find out what works best here.

Those are my thoughts, I hope it helps somehow. :smile:


(Daniele Scasciafratte) #5

I like a lot this point, the Reps program already do (not everyone do that part actually) and how was showed with Firefox Quantum, with the many blogposts during the development called newsletter, this can improve the feelings to be part of a team and accountability.


(Edoardo Viola) #6

Hello everyone,
I prefer to try to reply at all the questions per each topic.

Leadership should require renewal
In general I think, and not only for a specific program, that, as community, we need a continent planification of what we will try to reach in all the countries inside the continent. every continent and every nation have different situation, so, I think that someone (from volunteers or from the employee) must be involved in this planification (Probably could be someone inside the council or someone who represent all the volunteers of the continent with all their needs.
In reply at the questions:

  • How do we ensure community/staff balance in evaluating terms/checkpoints?
    Probably involving directly all the local or national communities, or, with someone who represent it. The responsibilities of this representative are only to try to engage all the people inside the local community in a open conversation about the terms and the checkpoints of the specific project. How will be determined the representative will be with a internal election or how we do in normal.

  • How do we fill leadership gaps if they are results of failures?
    I think that in general is important to don’t talk about a failure, but, is important to understand what happened and what we will change in future in order to increase the performance. If in a specific community we have leadership gaps, we need first to understand if the volunteers involved have time to lead a community (because sometime in different communities the principal problem is this), second if the community are a strong community and have a number of volunteer usefull to spread our verb in autonomy. I think that mozilla must invest more “energy” where the participation are low than where the communities are big and prosperous. Without active community we are notting, so, more than talk about technologies (because the techonologies are tools to satisfy needs), we must drive the people to have new needs. In terms of our goals this needs are: respect yourself online and understand better what are you using in your online experience.

  • How do you address a conflict/leadership failure in between a term?
    It’s hard to reply at this question. Btw, I think that the conflicts come when someone don’t want to step back, or where someone don’t be in real aligned with the mission of the community and want to maintain the “status” acquired. So, I think that in that case or, we must create a concept of local community that is formed only by people that are inside Mozilla Teams of volunteers (Reps, L10N, Sumo, ec…) without any form of organization inside, or we need to have a little team that evaluate the conflict and help the volunteers to resolve it. A sort of team of mediator. In the first case, the leadership is directly drive by the program or the team, in the second case without a sort of investigation and mediation it’s hard to resolve somthing.

Leadership should be distributed

  • How can we ensure distributed leadership in small communities? 1-5 people.
    I think that in general we need to have a more wide-range costant coordination, and we must consider that not in all the cases must be driven directly by the volunteers. Btw, in the small communities we need first to understand if someone have the time to lead a small community as volunteer. Next, supposing to find someone, the distribution depend of the number of project that the community want to run. Moreover, the replacement must be frequently. A volunteer is a volunteer, he cannot be able to know for how many time can lead a community but we can assure that the project must go on.

  • How do we ensure leadership roles are accessible for everyone?
    With a open process. Anyone could apply and anyone must know the motivation of our choose.

  • How do we ensure opportunities are effectively communicated?
    We can create a big and ordered contact book per each nation of all volunteers and send the communication using these address, or we can involve a representative per each community that have the responsibility of inform and create an open conversation about this opportunities.

Leaders should be accountable
I’m in accord of this sentence. The Leaders should be accountable. Btw, we need to remember that the volunteers have a second life, outside the community, and sometimes they are not able to reach all the goals planned.

  • How do we measure accountability?
    In our communities I think that the must important thing is the well-being inside all the communities and the participation of the community at our mission. I think that we need to measure it with the volunteers that are involved. A good leader in a community is not only who reach all the goals, but it’s important to measure how he had reach all the goals. (Sometimes happen that the volunteers prefer to do all things alone in order to reach the goals than involve their communities). For a Leader must be important these two things together.

  • How do we set standards for accountability?
    A standard depend of what we want to measure for that. For me, is important to measure the well-being of the community, and the increasing of participation in the project to measure the accountability of a leader.

Leadership should be diverse & inclusive

  • How do we ensure leadership is transparent?
    Only creating open opportunities, sharing all things online and replying at all question made.

  • How can we make/enforce CPG visible?
    First of all to increase the diversity and the inclusivity is important to don’t use abbreviation as that (CPG equal at Community Participation Guideline). Is important to translate in all the language the guideline, and incentivize the communities to share the translated document and create an open conversation and a workshop about that in all the communities.

Leadership should be consistent

  • How do we avoid burnout?
    monitoring constantly the situation in the local communities.

  • How do we get people already comfortable in leadership roles to adopt new ways of wrking/new ways of thinking?
    I think with training and workshop specific in leadership. Improve the materials and the workshop in this website: https://leadership.mozilla.community, create something more usefull of the leadership role and create workshop locally in leadership. Encourage all the volunteers who have skills in leadership to make workshop about it in their community and define a roadmap in their community or their region. Evaluate the content of the Open Leadership Training made by Mozilla, Link: https://mozilla.github.io/leadership-training/ .

  • How do we measure needs of recognition?
    The recognition it’s important, btw, must not be the goal of what the volunteers make things. For example, I lead the most big number of volunteers in participation here in Italy (more than 25 volunteers in the FSA Program) in the 2016, (at that time only 2 volunteers are in the other part of participation part of the Italian community) I be part of the Mozilla Club program with the most active Club in all the world (between the 2016 and 2017), I be part of the Community Coach team, I localized some string in the L10N team between 2015 and 2016, I be part as Mentor in the last two Round of Open Leadership Training, I’m active in the Campus Program as Regional Coordinator and Campus Advisory Committee, btw I didn’t receive a special reward or a special recognition for all the 5/6 Hours per day that I spent inside the Mozilla Communities. The only thing for what I spent all that time in the past was for my community, for the goals that have mozilla and to include in real the max number of Italians in all the programs and mozilla initiatives. So, for me, more than the recognition is important to sensibilze the volunteer to make what they do for our goals than to win a prize or a T-Shirt. For sure, I think that is important to involve the people that already active and try to make a change where they find problem than people that talk about problem without trying to define solution.

Community Experts and Technical Experts Should, where possible, be Separate but Equal leadership Roles

  • How do we identify if a leader has the minimum capabilities?
    With a test evaluated. For who didn’t pass the test, encourage a set of resources in order to increase their skills in leadership. Or use a strategy as the Open Leadership Training.

  • Does “expert “resonate in all cultures? Are there differences in meaning?
    Yeah, the important that the role of experts are be experts and not a set of things that change with the time (as happened with the Reps Regional Coaches becomed Community Coaches).

  • How do communication work in this group?
    Using an unified communication Channel for every communities. For example, could be Discourse. The most important things is that the Communication Channel is reasonable for all people in the community. otherwise is useless.

  • How do we ensure people do not get the “leader” by being popular only?
    If we use metrics, and we involve the community in the process of evalution, if a leader use this role to be popular only, the measurement probably reflect this situation.

I know that sometimes I wrote a lot, btw, this is an open conversation so I prefered to wrote more then few.
Thank at who want to read all that I wrote. I hope only that in all that all of you find something of usefull for our causes.
Edoardo.


(Andre Alves Garzia) #7

Sorry for the delay, I was unavailable. There is a lot of unpack here and I will try to avoid being too long.

From my experience, most communities are not correctly equipped to handle the needs to a transparent process. In my experience, many communities think that by making topics available at some forum or online document, things are automatically transparent.

There is a lack of knowledge of tools and processes by which a workflow becomes transparent and collaborative. Our SOPs are too shallow on these issues and training doesn’t touch this too much which leards to a “roll your own transparency” attitude by community stakeholders (or whoever has more groupies).

We need to train community leadership on how to make a process transparent and collaborative and also provide them with the tools and methods too. There are many things missing:

  • Leadership needs to know how to handle long iterative drafting of proposals.
  • Leadership needs to learn how to sustain an asynchronous decision process where people have a chance to input their opinions even though they might not be available during meeting/event time.
  • Leadership needs to be able to answer and provide the trail that led to some decision, for the decisions that affect all the community (not for trivial stuff).
  • Leadership needs to be prepared to compromise and reach a position of balance in their proposals instead of the usual “whoever has more groupies win the vote and forces policy”.

We need to behave more like foundations, charters and other committees work than the current ways we do.

I will sprout an unpopular opinion here but it is my firm belief that recognition is a double edged sword or a footgun that attracts people who sometimes wants to be in a position of glamour and power too much. If the community doesn’t have the methods and policies to do boundary checks, this leads to the establishment of cliques and possés which are harmful.

I have no idea how to solve recognition beyond the it is cool to say thank you and please those who are giving their time and effort to Mozilla. On the topic of burn out it is much much much much harder as I have been trying to copy with burn out myself due to stuff that has happened in my local community. I don’t think Mozilla itself is prepared to handle this and at least in my own personal case, it wasn’t.

In my opinion, most of the burn out situations happen due to negative emotional investment by different groups inside the community itself which tends to be fighting over which groups has more recognition or is in a position of leadership. Basically, burn out appears to be a people problem and not be something tech or politics related. This probably happens due to the hierarchyzation (can’t spell English, sorry) that occurs naturally inside each community. I believe that we need to fight the verticalization of communities and having a leadership structure, I believe the best method to avoid burn out is to horizontalize the community making it a decentralized or graph structure with no leaders or hierarchy thus avoiding all the I am better than you bullsh*t.

That is quite tricky because identification will often lead to quantification which requires objective and quantitative metrics of something that is usually a qualitative characteristic, for example: How do you measure the coding ability of someone? that is impossible to answer in general. What we need is not a method for identifying capabilities but a workflow that lets leadership surface.

I believe that the best way to enable this is to provide an environment that foster and rewards collaboration. In my view, the leader is not someone above giving orders, which is a behavior I observe a lot here, but someone that is on the same factory floor as everyone else helping.

Conclusion and unpopular opinion

I am radically against the usage of the monicker leader for anything related to community. It carries too much weight and pre-conceived meaning and behaviors. People who end up in such leadership positions start behaving like managers and owners, I don’t want that. I want secretaries, like U.N. secretaries. People who work a lot to enable others, to make policy possible, to maintain the community working.

In the Mozilla Clubs program we made the sad decision of calling people captains, it sounded cool, but it was imbued with authority. As soon as we call someone a Leader, we’re distancing them from the rest of the community members, conceptually. I know this may sound boring, but just ask any council member about regional community struggles for power and I bet you will hear some creepy story back.

If we must use the Leader word, then lets us all be cheerleaders ushering the community forward instead of the usual bossy people that believe they own volunteership and makes being a FOSS volunteer stressful (look at wikipedia community for example of struggles, it is quite a grimm tale).


(Daniele Scasciafratte) #8

A point that need to be studied.

All good points!

I like that point is very important, in that way we are talking about delegate with a little bit of leading not left orders to the community.


(Kairo) #9

And that makes this even more confusing for me as IMHO leadership is the least interesting or important topic in the volunteer community. When our community worked, it was flat structure and a grassroots bottom-up effort and not a top-down “leadership” effort. My personal opinion is that the top-down approach has great potential to actually kill volunteer groups effectively.


(Rubén Martín) #10

Can you explain this more deeply?

We are going to update the Volunteer Leadership as a result of all the input and work during the All Hands, but we understand leadership not as a “top-down” structure but as people with coordination/facilitation/responsibility roles in the community that affects others, this can be from a forum moderator to a localization reviewer or a Rep.


(Kairo) #11

I fear this whole discussion is so meta and far removed from daily contribution I may be part of that I don’t have a lot to contribute. IMHO, “leadership” (and in volunteers I very much dislike the whole word “leadership” as it should be about coordination instead) structure needs to fit the specific areas and can’t be regulated in a general sense - unless the whole community is unified into one single thing first. And the coordination of volunteer efforts can only be structured once the rest has been, while it feels to me like you would try to start the other way round.